I am concerned by the uncertainties surrounding the government's approach to its civilian workforce planning. At least the Minister for Defence has finally given up on his claim which was originally cutting 1,200 Public Service job and has now publicly admitted that he is planning to cut the equivalent of 2,406 full-time APS jobs in the Department of Defence over the forward estimates. And that is just what we know about.
The minister has, so far, been unable to provide any indication of the measures being undertaken to ensure that these cuts do not impact adversely on operational capacity or to indicate in which areas the cuts will fall. It is one thing for him to keep delaying comment until the first principles review has reported, but these matters require assurance and we need assurance now.
I ask the assistant minister: has the government committed at least to maintaining the current levels of staffing in key areas such as intelligence, scientific research and technical work? How can it reassure us that we will have in place measures to ensure that staffing decisions taken will fully incorporate the need to maintain operational capability support provided by civilian staff? Also, prior to the election, the coalition said it would cut 12,000 Public Service jobs through natural attrition. Can the minister assure Defence civilian staff that their jobs will be cut through natural attrition?